UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Cristiano Ronaldo insists Juventus should have no complaints about the dramatic late penalty he scored to send Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals.
Ronaldo held his nerve at the Santiago Bernabeu to score and seal a 4-3 aggregate triumph for Real after Juve had staged a sensational comeback to lead 3-0 on Wednesday and draw the tie level.
Mario Mandzukic headed home twice in the first half before Blaise Matuidi capitalised on an error from Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas to keep the Italians’ dream alive.
But English referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot in the 93rd minute after Mehdi Benatia prevented Lucas Vazquez from executing a close-range finish with a clumsy challenge from behind.
Gianluigi Buffon, on perhaps his final Champions League appearance before retirement, was sent off for his protests but Ronaldo stayed calm and slammed the spot-kick past substitute goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny into the top corner.
“I do not understand why they protest against the penalty,” Ronaldo told beIN Sports after the match.
“If he did not commit the foul, Lucas would have scored. During the game, Benatia and the rest of them had already been kicking us from behind.
“But we are happy and we are in the semi-finals.”
Ronaldo’s winner, which meant a 3-1 defeat on the night but a 4-3 aggregate victory, means Real edge one step closer to claiming a third consecutive European triumph, and fourth in five years.
They join Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Roma, the conquerors of Barcelona, in the last four.
“It was a very long game and it serves as a lesson that in football nothing is guaranteed and that we have to fight until the end,” Ronaldo said.
“Step by step, now we’re into the semi-finals.”